December 4th sees the final First Monday Crime panel of 2017, something which promises to be an absolutely brilliant evening. In the run up to the big even, I’ve been taking a look at books by the featured authors, starting with Mel McGrath’s brilliant thriller Give Me The Child.
The Official Book Blurb
‘Gripping and moving’ Erin Kelly
‘You won’t want to eat, sleep or blink’ Tammy Cohen
Imagine your doorbell rings in the middle of the night.
You open the door to the police.
With them is your husband’s eleven-year-old love child. A daughter you never knew he had.
Her mother has been found dead in their south London flat.
She has nowhere else to go.
WOULD YOU TAKE HER IN?
Compulsive, dark and devastating, Give Me the Child is a uniquely skilful thriller with an unforgettable twist.
If ever there was a book which encapsulates all the things I find most terrifying and completely hideous about small children, then it may well be this one. Yikes. Forget demonic possession or telekinesis or all of those old tricks which have been used in novels of yester-year to create horrific children. They have nothing on the malevolence which is portrayed in some of the children within Give Me The Child. I don’t think there is anything more chilling than a child who simply appears to lack empathy, or one who is so manipulative, controlling and … well just plain horrid. That is exactly what you are faced with in this book, but you will need to decide if this is due to nature or nurture. And while you make that decision, you’ll be taken on a journey that will make you angry, make you sad and leave you with such nervous tension you’ll need a day or two to recover.
Faced with an unexpected arrival in the middle of the night, Cat Lupo soon finds how quickly things can change. She has far from the perfect life, but she is happy. Wife and mother, she is content in her career, running a unit which helps young children with psychological issues. And so helping her husbands illegitimate child, Ruby Winter, should be a walk in the park. Shouldn’t it? If only. Ruby Winter is a damaged child who is faced with the sudden death of her mother and being thrust into a family she never knew and who don’t know her. And she isn’t the kind of child who takes kindly to having a new Stepmother, be they wicked or kind …
Man, this book. I listened to the audio version on one of my many trips down South and while I don’t regret a single minute of it, I’m not entirely sure it was a wise decision. I have no recollection of the journey at all, I was so absorbed in what was happening in the book, and when you are the one in charge of the car … well. Thankfully I’m a very good driver! There were so many moments when I wanted to shout at the stereo, where I could feel my hands tightening around the wheel, and where I just felt so on edge at what I was listening to that I must have looked a right loon to anyone driving past me. In fairness, this is nothing new, but I do remember being particularly incensed at one or two places in the story, that I am sure I must have looked like I was suffering with extreme road rage. Again, probably nothing new there either…
I really felt the tension rising as the story progressed. Felt Cat’s frustration as those around her failed to see what she was seeing. How they used her past against her to create doubt and undermine her professional opinions. Trying to make her look unreliable. I was angry for her. Each time those who should have supported her let her down, I wanted to shout at the stereo, a sign of a really good and really relatable character. Don’t get me wrong, Cat is far from perfect, but the ways in which she is treated really got under my skin. And yet … there was always this lingering doubt, just a small amount, that perhaps she wasn’t as I expected her to be. The story is, after all, told in her voice, and with the audio version it creates an even more compelling argument that she is the only one of sound mind. But is she? Or is her past starting to adversely affect her present too? You’ll have to read to find out.
I can’t say I was completely blindsided by the betrayals which occurred in the book, because I don’t think I was. You could see it building, see the people starting to take sides. What I didn’t know, much like Cat, was why. Why did the people Cat thought she could love and trust let her down so quickly and so often? I could understand ambition and greed acting as motivators for some, but the motivation of others was more personal and far more shocking and the ending was entirely unexpected. There are scenes throughout which will have your heart in your mouth, especially where Cat’s daughter, Freya, disappears. But just who is behind it? That one got me. I saw part of it coming and proceeded with utmost caution. But just as I thought I knew I was hit from behind like a Cortina verses a Juggernaut. Think I still may have a touch of whiplash. Brilliant. And also very tragic. A sad and poignant moment for a very troubled soul.
This book will make you smile, make you gasp, make you angry and make you nod with approval. Does justice get served at the very end? You know what? To my mind it does. The ending does leave things somewhat open, so if you want an absolute resolution and a neat conclusion, you don’t strictly get that here. However, the implication is clear and there is a kind of satisfaction from what comes to pass. A brilliant thriller.
Give Me The Child was published in July by HQ and is released in paperback on 25th January 2018. You can purchase a copy from the following retailers:
About the Author
Melanie McGrath was born near Romford, Essex. Her books include, Motel Nirvana, which won the 1996 John Llewelyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday award for the Best New British and Commonwealth Writer under thirty-five, Hard Soft and Wet, the bestselling memoir Silvertown and, most recently, The Long Exile: A True Story of Deception and Survival Amongst the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic. Hopping, the sequel to Silvertown, will be published by Fourth Estate in early 2008.
She writes for the Guardian, Independent, The Times, Evening Standard and Condé Nast Traveller. She is a regular broadcaster on radio, and has been a television producer and presenter. She lives and works in London.
Mel McGrath will be appearing at First Monday Crime in December. The event this month is a real holiday treat! Not only do we have a cracking panel- Louise Jensen, Chris Whitaker, Susi Holliday, Mel McGrath, moderated by the lovely Claire McGowan, but wine will be graciously sponsored by No Exit Press.
As an extra festive bonus, some of the finest crime fiction authors in the WORLD are going to pitch their cherished dream projects to you, the audience. A panel of experts, with savage wit and repartee, will be there to add commentary, but YOU decide who the winner is! There will be tears, laughter and possibly dinosaur detectives.
This part of the event will be crafted under the careful and caring gaze of MC Howard Linskey, Rod Reynolds, Abir Mukherjee, Cass Green, Leye Adenle, Susi Holliday, Derek Farrell, Lisa Cutts, Chris Whitaker, Mason Cross, Neil White and James Carol as they vie for the ultimate prize: the coveted title of First Monday Pitch an Audience Champion 2017.
And don’t forget to take part in the Secret Santa Book Exchange. Bring a book (pre-loved is fine!) wrapped in tissue/news/wrapping paper and get a book in return!
You can book tickets and learn more about First Monday Crime, at their website here.